Ernest Sosa, knowledge, and understanding

Philosophical Studies 106 (3):171--191 (2001)
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This paper offers and analysis of Ernest Sosa's Virtue Perspectivism. Although Sosa has been credited with fathering the influential contemporary movement known as Virtue Epistemology, I argue that Sosa imprudently abandons the reliabilist-based insights of Virtue Epistemology in favor of a reflection-based, "perspectival"' view. Sosa's mixed allegiance to reliabilist-based and reflection-based views of knowledge, in fact, leads to an unwelcome tension in his thought which can be relieved by recognizing that his reflection-based view is in fact an account of the cognitive state of understanding, rather than an account of knowledge. Sosa makes matters difficult for himself because he expects too much, as it were, from the concept of knowledge, and in the process burdens his view with elements of reflection it does not require. To solve the problem, I suggest that Sosa needs to develop a two-tiered epistemology which recognizes that knowledge, on the one hand, and understanding, on the other, both have necessary and sufficient conditions unique to themselves.



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Stephen Grimm
Fordham University

Citations of this work

Virtue Epistemology.John Turri, Mark Alfano & John Greco - 1999 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:1-51.
Kant on the radical evil of human nature.Paul Formosa - 2007 - Philosophical Forum 38 (3):221–245.
Virtue epistemology and the acquisition of knowledge.Duncan Pritchard - 2005 - Philosophical Explorations 8 (3):229 – 243.
Knowledge Is All You Need.Lisa Miracchi - 2015 - Philosophical Issues 25 (1):353-378.

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References found in this work

Warrant: The Current Debate.Warrant and Proper Function.Alvin Plantinga - 1993 - New York, US: Oxford University Press USA.
Externalist Theories of Empirical Knowledge.Laurence Bonjour - 1980 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 5 (1):53-73.
Externalist Theories of Empirical Knowledge.Laurence BonJour - 2000 - In Sven Bernecker & Fred I. Dretske (eds.), Knowledge: readings in contemporary epistemology. New York: Oxford University Press.

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